After dropping seven points in their previous three matches, Valletta returned to winning ways thanks to a narrow win over Gzira United at the Hibernians Stadium.
The Maroons had three changes from the team which lost narrowly to Balzan as Andre White, Gianmarco Conti and Jacob Borg replaced Ian Azzopardi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Ricardo Correa. On the other hand, Claudio Pani and Luke Montebello replaced Valdo Alhinho and the suspended Tomas Radzinevicius.
Gzira had an early appeal for a penalty after Adeshina in a contrast with Camilleri but the referee waved play on.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Valletta almost took the lead when a a powerful shot by Rowen Muscat, defelcted by a defender hit the upright with the goalkeeper beaten with the ball then cleared into safety.
Valletta then managed to score the all-important goal on the 58th minute when Leandro Aguirre sent Luke Montebello through and the latter advanced, dribbling Andre White and beating the Gzira goalkeeper from close range.
VALLETTA Dziugas Bartkus, Jonathan Caruana (29’ Santiago Malano), Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Luke Montebello (75’ Llywelyn Cremona) Claudio Pani (86’ Jean Borg), Uchenna Calistus Umeh, Leandro Aguirre, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Rowen Muscat, Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Russell Fenech, Matthew Spiteri, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
GZIRA Mauro Boerchio, Andre White, Souleymane Diamoutene, Zachary Scerri, Gianmarco Conti (69’ Karl Pulo), Jacob Borg (90’ Salvatore Grixti), Jonathan Bondin, Louis Rene Zome, Juan Carlos Corbolan, Ige Abdullahi Adeshina (83’ Emerson Amaira)
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ian Azzopardi, Jean Pierre Vella.
Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Emanuel Grech
Assistant Referee: Jurgen Spiteri, Chris Azzopardi
Additional Assistant Referees: Trustin Farrugia Cann, Alex Johnson
Fourth Official: Thomas Debono
Yellow cards: 40’ Santiago Malano, 78’ Leandro Aquirre, 88’Souleymane Diamoutene,90+1’ Romeu Pericles Romao
Scorers: 58’ Luke Montebello
BOV Player of the Match: Gianmarco Conti
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 602
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Tarxien Rainbows scored twice within the first twenty-four minutes to beat Mosta 2-0.
A third consecutive win and a fifth consecutive positive result for Jesmond Zerafa’s side who now join Sliema on the 24-point mark in sixth place while for Mosta, this was yet another failed attempt to return to winning ways. They have now in fact gone twelve matches without a win.
Mosta had four players making their debut, namely David Fenech, Cedric Hengbart, Erik Mikes and Pedrinho. They replaced Luca Martinelli, Jaroslav Repa, Kemar Reid and Kemmu Jackson. Tarxien, on the other hand, had just one change from the team which defeated Hamrun as Emerson Marcelina replaced Claudio Frances in Jesmond Zerafa’s starting eleven.
The Rainbows managed to take the lead on the 7th minute thanks to an angled shot from the left by Alex Nilsson which gave goalkeeper Yenz Cini no chance.
Tarxien doubled the score on the 24th minute when off a corner from the right by Daniel Ponce de Leon, Daniel Zerafa rose high to anticipate Cini and head home.
TARXIEN Philip Schranz, Ebiabowei Baker, Emerson Marcelina, Triston Caruana (77’ Ayrton Azzopardi), Daniel Ponce de Leon (85’ Julian Galea), Alex Nilsson, Sergio Fernandez Prendes, Daniel Zerafa, Alex da Paixao Alves, Matthew Tabone, Kurt Zammit (68’ Sacha Borg).
Subs not used: Antonio Chetcuti, Dylan Micallef, Andrew Agius, Claudio Frances.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
MOSTA Yenz Cini, Chinatu Francis Onwudinjo, Dany Djoufack, David Fenech, Gabriel Bezak (70’ Adrian Caruana), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Kurt Magro, Cedric Hengbart, Eric Mikes, Lucky Victor Oseghale (81’ Calvin Camilleri), Neil Frendo.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Kyle Gatt, Jurgen Grech, Luke Galea, Zachary Brincat.
Coach: Zsolt Hornyak
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Baker, Pedrinho
BOV Player of the Match: Daniel Ponce de Leon
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 575